“The book American Gods wishes it was.” --Despina Durand

Friday, November 22, 2019


Chicanonautica braces itself for Holidaze in Trumptopia, at La Bloga.

Get ready for shopping:

The President is sympathetic:

And how's that wall going?

Our Twenties are going to roar:

Thursday, November 14, 2019


When leaving Española, we almost took a detour to Taos, which sounds like an Elmore Leonard western. Maybe I should steal that title for my own. Yup. Something inspiring about this landscape. The Land of Enchantment.

"We’re going around the eastern flank of the supervolcano,” said Emily.

We stopped for a restroom break, and bought ice tea and water at a charming, non-corporate, middle of nowhere gas station/convenience store called Margarita’s, It was run by a talkative old guy, radiated back-country charm, and had a bar attached. The condom dispenser offered patriotic products.

There were a lot of pizzarias along the highways, getting into the Indian reservations. I wonder if they add green chile to make their pizzas New Mexico Style?

As we approached Farmington, we saw oil wells, refineries, casinos, even a horse race track. Also farmland and beautiful mountains. What more can working people want?

Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata, and other Mexican revolutionaires looked over us as we had dinner at Tequila’s in Farmington. Our motel had more Native American patrons and employees.

Finally, we were heading home . . .

What century is this? Did we find America in Aztlán? Who was the president?

And a Koch brother died.

On Highway 64 going toward Shiprock,we passed a massive automotive graveyard.  Soon we were going through the Big Rez, toward Arizona, always mindblowing. Real wide-open spaces . . . spacey . . . space . . . geological wonderland . . . modern day Native Wild West . . .

Suddenly, Emily swerved to avoid killing a reservation dog.

When we returned to Phoenix’s urban sprawl, flags were at half-staff again.

Friday, November 8, 2019


Chicanonautica reflects on judging Somos en escrito's Extra-Fiction contest again,over at La Bloga.

Can a Chicano be a good judge?

We can't help but be controversial:

It even got Hispanic:

And most of the winners were women:

Monday, October 28, 2019


It's getting close to the Halloween/Día de los Muertos/Dead Daze time of year, mis amigos. A good time to read my novel Smoking Mirror Blues.

Misha Nogha called it, “A fantastic work of genius.”

Tezcatlipoca will smile upon you.

Friday, October 25, 2019


Chicanonautica announces my stories in two upcoming anthologies, over at La Bloga.

I am a Chicano:

The anthologies are Latinx:

One of my stories is about a mariachi:

Who goes from Texas to Mars:

Monday, October 21, 2019


Española is Felliniesque town. It dates back to the conquistadors. The streets twist around and across the Rio Grande. It feels like a big barrio that thins out into Indian reservations.

Emily had made a reservation at El Paragua, a Mexican restaurant we hadn't tried before. When I called to confirm, all I could get was a recording saying they were closed on that specific day. What? Did they burn down, get robbed, or something?

Luckily, there was a Chinese place right in front of the motel. The servers were teenage girls who spoke Chinese to each other. Conversation in Chinese, along with the sound of frying came from the kitchen. The decor was kung fu kitsch. And the food was good, too.

You never know what you'll find in Española.

Tattooed characters milled around in the lobby as we checked in. The halls reeked of stale cigarette smoke. One of the rooms we rented smelled moldy. A sign on the dilapidated parking lot fence warned: NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THEFT OR DAMAGE TO VEHICLES.

Surrealistically, both of our rooms had two identical copies of the same bad art print. They were probably in all the rooms. The owner probably got a deal for buying them in bulk.

Later, we witnessed a drug deal in front a NO LOITERING VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED sign.

In Taos, a lot of our favorite places were closed, going the way of the Wired? Cafe. A guy hooked up to an oxygen tank, who was trying to fix a truck, told us the same thing happened to the Coffee Spot. The mural of Billy the Kid with an arrow through his hat and others near it had been whitewashed. A lot of businesses were closed, the spaces for rent.

It's like a hipster apocalypse, though tattoos and man-buns are still plentiful.

Back in Española, we finally got to eat at El Paragua. They said no need for reservations, just come on down. More great tacos, handmade tortillas, and wonderful Latinoid decor.

Pancho Villa smiled from a wanted poster.

Next door they had El Parasol, a takeout annex. Just thinking about their menu makes my mouth water. Award-winning tacos, tubs of beans, rice, and menudo to go. Some kind of paradise.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Chicanonautica tells how you can help Lucy Veloz, The Flying Princess, over at La Bloga.

A different Lucy, in a different sky:

And a different kind of princess:

And inventor:

And hero:

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Compared to the August heat island of Phoenix, it was cool the next morning in Snowflake. No snowflakes, though. But by ten A.M. it started to heat up. After all, we were still in Arizona.

When we took Highway 60 toward the New Mexico border, Emily mistook a large piece of farm equipment for a dinosaur.

Finally in New Mexico, we had pie at the Pie Town Cafe. I ordered the New Mexico apple pie. "Do you know what's in it?" The Marine behind the counter asked. I assured him that I had it before, and liked it.

The green chile makes the apple pie more delicious.

Soon the sky was crowded with puffy clouds. We saw several downpours in the distance. We sure weren't in Arizona anymore.

We visited the Very Large Array. Emily's mother wanted to see it again. It's becoming a pilgrimage.

I didn't get pictures because a cell phone can drown out the radio signals from light years away.

As we left, there was thunder, lightning, and rain. The downpours had caught up with us. All the spattered bugs on the windshield were washed away.

After the storm cleared up,we saw a rainbow on the way to Española. It abruptly changed the direction of its arc. Did rainbows flip often? You never know what strange phenomena you'll encounter on these roads.

Friday, September 27, 2019


Chicanonautica reviews Escenarios Para el Fin del Mundo by Bernardo Fernández, over at La Bloga.

CDMX means Mexico City:

The enscenairos are CDMX-centric:

Some apocalypticismo:

Steampunk, and more:

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Miles away from Phoenix, up the I-17, still seems like our home turf. Found myself fantasizing about a photo or painting project: Show the landscape with the saguaros and mountains, but include the microwave, power, and cell phone towers, the billboards, and the graffiti. No more Nineteenth Century delusions of virgin wilderness.

The 260 still looked like home. Hawks patrolled above, as we hugged the Mogollon Rim--monster country. The roller-coaster forest road took us to Payson, where Em avoided killing a kamikaze squirrel.

We also passed one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, La Sierra. It’s funky, hand-painted sign with an awkwardly fixed misspelling was replaced with a boring, plastic one that looks like it should be in the food court of a fashionable mall. I hope they don’t get rid of the psychedelic sombreros.

Surprisingly, in Northern Arizona, not as many flags were at half-staff. Hmm . . . Maybe that’s a big city thing . . .

There was no sign of snow in Snowflake, Arizona, but we did find a rocketship jungle gym. It triggered sci-fi memories. At my grade school the jungle gym was a dome on top of a dome. We had to use our imaginations to make it into a rocketship.

Now the iconic finned rocket is a cliché. Someday it will be a petroglyph.

We ate dinner at La Cocina de Eva. I always love to find great tacos, beans, and rice. There were also gigantic paintings of the restaurant’s founders as vaqueros. Snowflake has a Mexican heritage.

There was a painting of a dragon.

Snowflake also has a Mormon temple and a Oneness Center, as well as a Catholic church. A diverse population for an Arizona mountain town.

In the parking lot of our motel, a truck laden with a huge, mysterious machine stood the night. I couldn’t tell if it was mining or farm equipment, or part of a secret space program.

That night I dreamed that someone was screaming, “Blow the reactors! Blow them now!” And that I had bought a package of strange, little creatures to release into the local ecosystem.

Friday, September 13, 2019


Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, reviews Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist.

It's book by Kathleen Alcalá:

Kinda like magic realism:

Visions of Aztlán:

Y más:

Friday, September 6, 2019


I'm interrupting the Wild West Vacation travelogue because last weekend I was at CokoCon, here in Phoenix . . .

My wife, Emily Devenport was the guest of honor.

Her books were on sale, among others.

Professor Sparks brought the spark machines from the original 1931 Boris Karloff Frankenstein movie, and they still work!

He also, with the help of an assistant, performed the classic “Miss Electra” sideshow act.

So, in the middle of all the apocalyptic media storm, we had good time.

Friday, August 30, 2019


Chicanonautica reviews and quotes from a book about the Mexican American War, over at La Bloga.

It’s mentioned in the Marines Hymn:

John Wayne never made a movie about it:

Schools gloss over it:

And it could have turned out differently:

Monday, August 26, 2019


Just got back from our annual New Mexico trip. I’ll write a detailed travelogue later--things are weird and complicated, as usual . . .

I was in full Search For America Mode from the get-go. After all, it’s been a blood-spattered summer. Flags are at half-staff. Peter Fonda, the Easy Rider himself, is dead. Whither the hell goest thou, America?

So, I raised a few glasses to freedom.

And it’s still over a year, a long, crazy year, to the election.

I kept my eyes open as we traveled through Aztlán/the Wild West, saw things, took pictures, had some thoughts, even dreamed some dreams.

To be continued . . .

Friday, August 16, 2019


Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, reviews American Sabor, a great book about Latinx music in the U.S.A..

Pachucos can boogie:

Ritchie Valens sells Mexican folk to rock and rollers:

Santana plays Tito Puente:

Selena goes tropical:

And Los Lobos bring back traditions:

Thursday, August 8, 2019


People ask for my writing advice, even though after decades of pounding my fists bloody at the gates, New York still treats me like the most talented leper they’ve ever met. I don’t know how to take a manuscript and tweak it so it’ll sell right away. I don’t have a secret formula for writing a bestseller (and I have noticed that people who claim to have one have never had a bestseller).

What I do have is a whole lot of decades worth of experience as a writer, and getting published. I’ve had the cheap thrill of being called a genius, and I was smart enough to realize just how cheap it was. People seem to be amused by what I have to say about it.

Maybe it’s educational. Maybe it’s just entertaining.

Anyway, I’m currently working on Zyx; Or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin, and the going is getting weird. The joyous noodling around has gotten long, and complicated, and now screams for structure. I have multiple characters and plot lines that would go totally out of control if I just kept noodling. 

Try selling a novel built like a plate of spaghetti . . .

When I start writing anything,(including this) I make notes in brackets and all caps. I’ve found it to be a good way to outline my ideas, put down things that should be included from brainstorming and research. As I write, I delete what’s been covered, and go on.

Things have gotten so bizarre with Zyx that I’ve started putting the bracketed notes in boldface to make finding them easier . . .

Even though I do some outlining--stuff needs to be hung on a framework--I’m more of a pantser than planner. Being an artist trapped in a writer’s career, images come before words, and I like to keep them loose and sketchy. That’s because things change as you work on them.

As a writer, I’ve spent most of my life building a story-making machine in my brain. It goes way down into my subconscious. It’s always gathering things I see, hear about, and experience, selecting the best of the weird shit and rearranging it into stories.

Now and then you have to stop, take a deep breath, pull your nose out of the details, step back, and take a look at what the hell the big picture is becoming.

The good thing is, I don’t have to think about it; it works when I’m going around taking care of the day-to-day business. The bad thing is, like Emily and I have often said, a short story is like a bout with the flu, while novels are more like demonic possession. The monster in the back of my brain takes on a life of its own and demands more of my synapses, because it wants a more complex structure. The abstract expressionist splatter/jazz solo mutates into a widescreen, holographic, CGI symphony/Diego Rivera mural.

Try that while having a job, a family, and all the usual stuff of life!

Some people have the foolish idea that this is some kind of civilized activity. Heh-heh-heh.

So go ahead, try this at home. Stand back. See what happens.

I should probably get down to doing it rather than writing about it . . .